Learning while at Disney

This post is the first for a new Disney Facebook group that I have started: Disney Parks for Educators.  This group is designed for school teachers and administrators to have a place where they can discuss ways that attractions can be incorporated into daily lesson plans and curriculum along with project ideas for students who go to Walt Disney Work or Disneyland while school is in session.

The Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts are two of the top family destinations in the world.  Families visit the resort year round even when school is in session.  But that does not mean that the learning has to stop.  If your child goes to Disney while school is in session, then it is likely that your child will be given a packet of work to do while on vacation.  But parents and educators can work together to find ways to find less busy worksheet work to do and more hands-on engagement with the attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

My book, Walt Disney World for Teens and Tweens, is full of ideas of ways that students can engage and interact with the attraction while on vacation.  But what are some general ways that the educators can give students a way to think about concepts that they are covering at school without giving them a worksheet to complete.

1) Ride Physics

There is physics to every attraction.  From roller coasters like Space Mountain and Expedition Everest to spinning rides like Dumbo and Mad Tea Party even to omnimovers like Under the Sea and The Gran Fiesta Tour, every attraction has some basic physics principles to make the attraction function.  Ask your students to describe how the attraction functions, how physics helps the attraction function, and you could even go as far as how physics could help attraction function more efficiently.

2) Many Attractions Have History Behind Them

For Social Studies and History educators, a lot of attractions are easy to look at from a historical or social perspective.  Spaceship Earth is the easiest example since it takes guests on a tour through world history.  Other attractions like movies in the China, France, and Canada pavilions of EPCOT’s World Showcase are other good attractions to get students to think about history and society when viewing the films.

Hollywood Studios is another great place to look at history.  Attractions like The Great Movie Ride to lead to a discussion of the history of film making while Star Wars Launch Bay could further that discussion with the history and future of special effects and CGI in film making.

Sliding into the Magic Kingdom, there are easy places to go for history like the Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World but even attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight (historical London), Pirates of the Caribbean (role of pirates in society both past and present), and Haunted Mansion (myth of ghosts) can prompt discussion.

3) Animal Kingdom for Biology

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the number one place to go to learn about zoology and veterinary sciences.  The place is filled with animals of all varieties.  Guests can see these animals from afar on the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction or they can up close when visiting Rafiki’s Planet Watch.  At Rafiki’s Planet Watch, guests can also learn about ecology and other conservation efforts taking place at the Walt Disney World Resort and throughout the world.


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